Eating Real Food: Shrimp Scampi

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Note: A slightly-modified version of this post is also a guest post on guest post on Lazaro Cooks! … what can I say? I’m busy, swamped, ready to sell my favorite blender for a slow-paced afternoon – whatever you dear readers call having no free time nowadays. Gotta milk whatever I write, right? Thanks for having me as a guest poster on your admirable blog, Lazaro!

As many of you know, I became a registered dietitian last July and couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the nutrition profession. Upon introducing myself to others as a registered dietitian, people will typically ask me some version of the same question. What do you think that question is? Is it:

(a) “By golly, Jessie, how do you stand eating rabbit food all day long?”
(b) “What’s a registered dietitian? (Or, even better: “What’s a registered dianitian?” )
(c) “Will you avert your gaze from the fried chicken I am cradling in my hand?”
(d) “How should I eat?”

Okay, I need to confess: I’ve been asked versions of ALL these questions; however, what’s the question I’ve been asked the most? If you answered (d), a high-five and hearty pat on the back for you!

So, what’s my answer? A short version: eat real food. By real food, I mean unprocessed, perishable foods composing a diet that consists mostly of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains, and a small amount of healthy fats. Notice I said “perishable” – some packaged foods will have the word “fresh” emblazoned on the front, but you aren’t fooled, right? And, notice I said “mostly” – I subscribe to the “always, sometimes” diet.

…”Ah, ha!” you say, “This girl, RD is passing off Michael Pollan‘s words as her own!” True, Michael Pollan’s “Eat Food” mantra brought the current fixation with packaged and processed foods over fresh and unprocessed foods to public prominence. Yet, people have been thinking about – and, even better, unconsciously choosing – real foods for time immemorial. We have reached an age where people must turn to experts for guidance on how to eat. Strange, yes? I will do my part, of course, but I mourn the loss of unconsciously healthy food choices.

Luckily, we dietitians have people like Lazaro helping to spread the word! Think of Lazaro as my RD sidekick, if you will. His commitment to using fresh, sustainable ingredients in creative ways is part of a trend that I am thrilled to see across the blog world and into the real world.  With a little work, I believe we can return to making healthier food choices without a second thought.  The choice is OURS.

What can a hungry health- and eco-concious cook do right now? Why, make dishes like “I Choose YOU! Shrimp Scampi“, of course!

Unfortunately, most shrimp consumed in the U.S. are imported from other countries where regulations concerning production are poorly controlled. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want eat contaminated shrimp if I can help it. I choose U.S.-caught shrimp whenever possible – yes, domestic shrimp often is more expensive than imported shrimp, but I have made a conscious choice to enjoy foods that are better for my health and for the environment. For a good guide on ocean-friendly seafood, check out this link.

Shrimp Scampi
Serves 2

8 oz. shrimp, domestic if possible
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter (omit if desired)
Red pepper flakes
Fresh parsley
Whole wheat pasta or brown rice, cooked

Cook pasta or rice and arrange on warm plates. Defrost shrimp if necessary and make sure shrimp are very dry. Place flour on large plate and mix in smoked paprika if desired (I add the paprika when I want to give the shrimp a little kick). Lightly dredge shrimp in flour and place on another plate.

Place a frying pan over high heat until very hot. Add oil and butter and allow butter to melt. Add shrimp immediately and cook for 4-5 minutes, turning once halfway through. Don’t overcook! Remove shrimp to the plates with pasta or rice and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the frying pan if necessary and place over medium heat. Add garlic and stir for no more than 30 seconds. Drizzle garlic/oil mixture over shrimp and pasta/rice, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and torn fresh parsley. Squeeze lemon over all if desired.

Serve immediately and enjoy! I often eat this dish with grilled summer squash or sautéed Swiss chard.

To all you dear readers: keep it real! Peace.

Q: What’s your food philosophy?


  1. ohhh I love Michael Pollan! Seriously, he’s awesome and I NEED to read his other books! While I am a huge fan of many processed foods (ahem, peanut butter, canned beans, canned soups, etc) I thank my mom for getting me started young at taking whole and fresh ingredients and cooking with them and using them any recipe. I honestly think it’s lack of cooking skills that prevents so many people from buying fresh foods, and resorting to packaged pre-made foods. It’s tough when you’ve never learned how to even use a stove!

    1. I completely agree with the idea that many people don’t know how to cook, which is a shame! Cooking for yourself is certainly cheaper and healthier 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts, Gina!

  2. This looks amazing!!
    I completely agree with you! I try to eat as much real whole foods as possible.
    I hardly use any packaged foods if I can help it. The is reason I love blogging as much as I do. It has really helped me to get in the kitchen more!! 🙂

  3. Hello hello my dear! It’s great to have you back posting again. I’ve missed ya, chickie! You already know how much I love shrimp and how much I love this dish so I’m not gonna repeat myself and bore you again.

    Food philosophy? Hmm…I usually just eat what I want and try not to feel too guilty about it. I try to balance things out rather than avoiding what I want to eat. Like if I eat something “junky”, I’ll try to eat a small portion of it and then balance it with a larger portion of something healthy. Works better for me that way rather than trying to avoid the foods I love. I have no will power when it comes to avoiding food. Haha.

    Hope things are going well with you, my dear. Always great to see you blogging again. Hugs!!!

    1. I love your “balance” philosophy – I try to follow it myself! 🙂 Hugs LeeQs!

  4. The shrimp look great!

    I really like Michael Pollan’s food philosophy. I heard him speak about two years ago, and I really liked that he was “real” and admitted to not being “prefect.” He also made a real big point about cooking real, healthy, and cheap foods like beans, etc. I think too often people say eating healthy foods is too expensive and too difficult. But it really doesn’t have to be.

    Recently, life has gotten very hectic, and I started precooking more on the weekends, and I also freeze a lot more meals. I often make a big pot of vegetarian chili and then freeze at least two portions. I also freeze a lot of soups. They are all made with organic ingredients from my CSA boxes, and when I calculate the per meal price, it really isn’t very much.

    1. Freezing is a great idea to stretch your meals – and saves cooking time! I definitely admire your weekly menus, Andrea 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts!

  5. Jessie…so glad to have heard from you and of course reading your posts again. Always into the ‘Food for thought’ mode…which is what I truly appreciate about you…and of course, your sense of humour and good taste ;o)

    Well, my food philosophy is to not take in more than I can handle. With a very busy life schedule, I really only have the time to cook a few fresh meals per week, therefore, I try to shop accordingly and cook bigger batches of food. Love leftovers! I don’t diet…I do however consciously eat pretty much anything I have my heart set on, especially when fresh produce is laid in front of me.
    Let’s not forget dessert! Unfortunately, a little less willpower on that front ;o)

    Ciao for now and all the very best,

    1. There’s nothing like delicious leftovers to save time! I definitely try to cook larger portions to keep from having to prepare something new every day. Thanks for your insightful thoughts, Claudia! 🙂

  6. I love your philosophy because I share it! I won’t eat anything that I can’t identify or that comes out of a package – if I can help it.

    And the shrimp thing is tricky…it’s hard to find shrimp from the USA! But I usually try avoiding it unless I know it’s not farmed and/or from Vietnam. Unfortunately most of the shrimp I come across is a combo of both of these!

  7. So happy to see you posting, Jessie! I can imagine how busy you are, and I hope all is well with you…and I hope you had an amazing birthday the other day! I saw your post over on Laz’s blog — love your outlook on food…and the shrimp looks fantastic!

  8. Hey Jess! Long time no see on THIH! I read your post as soon as you put it up, but got distracted and forgot to comment hehe

    Ah the joys of postgraduate research, free time (and time in general) is in short supply, isn’t it? Don’t worry you’ll get used to it, and then it will be over! 😉

    I couldn’t agree more with the real food statement. I can attest that switching to eating real food has helped me immensely to eating healthily and reaching a (more) healthy body weight, even if that meant my weight had to go up and not down. It’s all about regulation!

    But I have something more to add in the food philosophy question: eating while relaxed and calm is hugely important to me. I never have lunch in a hurry or standing or at my desk while working if I can avoid it (and I am planning my day in a way that I can), because the time pressure and stress make me not eat well at all. Also it’s important to make the association between feelings and cravings.

    1. Yes, I agree 100%, Christa: eating while relaxed and being focused on food helps you to enjoy it more – and eating is so important in life! 🙂 Hope you’re doing well!

  9. YES! Eat Real Food! My thoughts EXACTLY. I will always and forever maintain that, even if they’re the same amount of calories, a homemade cupcake is infinitely better than a Hostess one.

    This scampi looks delicious!

  10. Hi again, as I shared on Laz’s site…loved the guest post along with the fantastic shrimp dish 🙂 I am sure you already know that I share your philosophy around food as well as many other things 🙂
    Big hugs and wishing you a great week…

  11. Haha, I love the questions and assumptions people make about dietitians. It’s very humorous…and off 🙂

    This meal looks AMAZING! And I agree with you 110% on your food philosophy! FOR SURE!!

  12. Looks good. But don’t forget that real food can be processed too. Anything that undergoes a change from it’s natural state would be processed (which I know dee down you do know this LOL). I know this term is probably the number 1 misused term of all time, but I only harp on it because I teach students who say the oddest things at all time and assume processed is the devil. I think sometimes as RDs we get wrapped up in that and forget what it truly means. The media has flat out destroyed that word.

    1. You’re right, Melinda – the word “processed” is both vilified and undefined (at least in terms of food), which is not a great combination. I’m sure you hear a lot of funny things from your students 😉 Hope all is well in Japan!

  13. OMG I totally lost my train of thought on that one. I agree 100% that the real food is the way to go. It is all about portion control. No need to way alter a food just to eat 3 times as much of something. No need to go messing with something tried and true. Always stick with the real food, in a reasonable portion.

  14. I don’t have a food philosophy. I don’t try to eat healthy, nor do I try to eat unhealthy. Food for me is just a fun, enjoyable sustenance and I want it to make me happy. Hm, maybe that’s my “philosophy.”

    1. I think that’s a wonderful approach, Sophia 🙂 Everyone needs to find the philosophy that works for them.

  15. Hello Jessie…just a quick hello…but mostly to wish you and your loved ones a wonderful Thanksgiving day ;o)

    Ciao for now,

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  17. This scampi looks TDF! I’m with you all the way on your ‘real’ food philosophy…

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